Friday, June 08, 2007
A Practical Treatise on the Global Networking Capacity of the Internet and the Paleo-Conservatives

As an American living in China, I often feel rather displaced from the goings-on in America. Yes, I know Paris Hilton went to prison (and was released early). And yes, I know that Larry Flint is intent on bringing yet ANOTHER sex scandal to our nation’s capital. But I find that - since it isn't exactly first page Chinese news - information on the presidential hopeful debates is sparse at best. Only top notch Chinese newspapers cover it well and, let's face it, my Chinese is not THAT good. And so, I get my information where everyone else does: the internet.

But the internet revolution that has taken place over the last five years has managed to create a true marketplace of information, unlike the previous decade's incarnation of the internet as a sounding board for those who had fallen off the deep-end. It used to be: "it's on the internet, so of course it must be true" accompanied by a sarcastic tone and a roll of the eyes. Now it really IS: "it's on the internet, so of course it must be true." Well, maybe not exactly. But I think we can muster: "it's on the internet, so there may be some kernel of truth to this that we can pursue and investigate." Sure, there are sites for ranting and raving, sites for venting bigotry and hatred, sites built by the ignorant for the ignorant. But with so many people currently relying on the internet as a resource for reference, exchange, and discussion, I find that the truth usually finds its way to the surface in the end.

And it's amazing what one is provided with once open to the power of the internet. On YouTube, I watch the debates firsthand. I read the candidates' webpages. I read the pundits' webpages. I read the pundits' pundits' webpages. I read opinion blogs, news blogs, credible blogs, and incredible blogs. I download The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Bill Maher, and other (usually comedic) "political roundtable" programs. As someone living abroad, far from home and far from the trappings of Western society, I maintain a full appreciation of the globally accessible, inter-connected web we weave.

For those who would ask about censorship and the internet in China, I will tell you that - at least as regards the sites I frequent - I find the constraints to be relatively limited. This is not to say that I condone censorship in any way, shape or form, but that the foreign media often over-hypes it to make a super-sized news story where there is perhaps only a medium-sized one. I hope that more internet freedoms arise in the future, but must concede that China is making a noticeable, though regulated, effort to limit restrictions and open more avenues of exchange.

As regards formulating my opinions on the candidates, I have to admit that my experience in China wields a heavy hand. This influence is not just a consequence of experiencing life from a different perspective on a foreign soil or an ability to view the United States objectively from abroad. Rather, it is largely the result of Beijing's international environment. People who come here to work, study, or travel come from all walks of life. Engaging in debate over U.S. policy (which, no matter where someone you meet hails from, happens the second I tell anyone I'm an American) has not changed my personal belief system. Rather, it has forced me to clarify my political leanings to make a more informed choice.

For those curious as to what that choice is, let me first say that (for those who do not know) I am a (paleo-conservative) Republican, though I have decidedly moderate leanings on social policy.

It was my social leanings that initially led me to the Giuliani camp. Amidst the initial contenders, Rudy seemed to have what I was looking for. But from what I've seen and heard thus far, there are holes in his rhetoric. Plus, a presidential candidate that is not open to and accommodating of the views of others sounds to me like a candidate prone to groupthink. That I will not have. At least not if I can help it. And in that respect, Rudy's not the only one either.

A penny for your thoughts - feel free to leave commentary on the issues or the candidates on this page or in my guestbook.

Wait a minute...sending a penny from China would probably cost, like, $30 FedEx.

So, $30.01 for your thoughts?

posted by Rachel @ 1:16 PM  
THE WILD WILD EAST: Everything you never knew you didn't know about life on the other side.
In China, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important groups. The Chinese, who call this land "home," and the expats who migrate here. My name is Rachel. I am an expat. These are my stories.
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